Representing Christ

The final words of Jesus that are recorded by Matthew are instructions for His followers to carry out while He is away: “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

The idea of spreading out all over the world is itself a daunting task, but for many of the early missionaries for Christ, travel and culture shock were only the beginning of their troubles. People were going to HATE them for being Christians: “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.” (John 15:18-19)

This posed a real problem for the early church. Hatred can often lead to violence, and the Roman government had very little tolerance for troublemakers whose religion led to violence. So what could the church do, to maintain its credibility and its political freedom while also standing up for Christ? The book of 1 Peter appears to have been written as an answer to that question.

Peter writes the book specifically to the “aliens” who have been scattered all over the known world for the sake of Christ, and he addresses all kinds of difficult situations that they may encounter.

What if Christ’s people find themselves disagreeing with the governing authorities?
What if a Christian servant finds himself serving an unjust master?
What if a Christian wife finds herself with an unbelieving husband?
What if a Christian finds himself in an argument in which his faith is called into question?
What if there are arguments within the church itself?

All of these situations must have been common for the early church, and any of them could have ended badly for everyone involved, but Peter’s instructions contain a steady theme that runs throughout the book:

Stand up for Jesus Christ, but do so in a way that is above reproach. Do not give them any reason whatsoever to slander your character. Be respectful. Be gentle. Be humble. Demonstrate through your behavior just how beautiful and beneficial your religion really is.

As Jesus said in Matthew 7: “You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits.”

The world will judge our message not simply by what we say, but also by how we say it, and what we do to demonstrate it. When we argue on behalf of Christ, let us do it, as Peter says “with gentleness and reverence.”

After all, Jesus Himself is our ultimate example. He was unjustly nailed to a cross.   He could have called ten thousand angels. But instead He responded by praying for our forgiveness and entrusting Himself to the Father.

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Scriptures and Thoughts on Marraige

Is the distinction between civil and religious marriage important?
            Questions to concider:
What if a cohabitating couple is willing to be married, but is unable to obtain a marriage license due to financial or bureaucratic reasons?

If a government recognizes gay marriage, does this mean that a gay couple is also married in the eyes of God? If not, does this not indicate that civil and religious marriage are separate issues?

The definition in (Genesis 2) of “leave and cleave” seems to establish a criteria for marriage that is more basic than governmental recognition.

(Mark 10:9) “Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

(Romans 13:1-2) “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.”

What does submission in a marriage look like in the 21st century?

(Ephesians 5:22-24) “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.”

(Colossians 3:18-19) Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.  Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.

(1 Peter 3:1-6) “In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior. Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.”

(1 Corinthians 15:28) When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all.

(Acts 5:29) “But Peter and the apostles answered, ‘We must obey God rather than men.’”

Are husbands also to submit to their wives?

(Ephesians 5:18-22) And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ. Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” 

What marriage advice does the Bible give?

(2 Corinthians 6:14) Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?

(Proverbs 5:18-19) May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful deer— may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be intoxicated with her love.

(Song of Songs 5:1) “I have come into my garden, my sister, my bride; I have gathered my myrrh along with my balsam. I have eaten my honeycomb and my honey; I have drunk my wine and my milk. Eat, friends; Drink and imbibe deeply, O lovers.”

(1 Corinthians 7:3-5) The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control

(Deuteronomy 24:5) If a man has recently married, he must not be sent to war or have any other duty laid on him. For one year he is to be free to stay at home and bring happiness to the wife he has married.

(Genesis 1:27-28) “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’ ”

(Mark 10:9) “Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

(1 Corinthians 13:4-7) Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

(Hebrews 13:4) Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.

How should the Biblical view of marriage shape modern dating practices?

It is notable that the concept of dating is virtually absent from the text. Marriage is outlines as an endeavor of selfless giving, and dating should thus not be about simply having fun for one’s personal enjoyment.

(1 Corinthians 7:8-9) Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

How can a Christian use their marriage to portray Christ and the church to the world?

 (Ephesians 5:31-33) “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

(Isaiah 54:5) “For your Maker is your husband, the LORD of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called.”

How can a wife respect her husband?

(Colossians 3:18-19) Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.  Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.

(Proverbs 12:4) A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.

(Proverbs 21:9) It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife.

(Proverbs 31:10) A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.

(1 Corinthians 7:3-5) speaks of satisfying each other’s physical needs.

How can a husband love his wife as he ought to?

(Ephesians 5:25-29) Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church

(Deuteronomy 24:5) If a man has recently married, he must not be sent to war or have any other duty laid on him. For one year he is to be free to stay at home and bring happiness to the wife he has married.

(Colossians 3:18-19) Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.  Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.

(1 Peter 3:7) You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.

How can a man dwell with his wife in an understanding way?

(1 Peter 3:7) You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.

Why is there no marriage in heaven?

(Matthew 22:30) Jesus said to them, “Is this not the reason you are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God? For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.

 

True Freedom

Paul asked the Romans in the sixth chapter of his letter to them: “Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?”

Many in today’s world would not agree with Paul. They would definitely agree that those who submit themselves to God’s will are pitiful slaves who miss out on all the fun, but they would not agree that those who choose not to submit to God are also slaves, and in a much worse sense.

Most in today’s world believe that there is true freedom in following our own hearts and being our own people at all costs. That, as David Bentley Hart puts it, “freedom – conceived as the perfect, unconstrained spontaneity of individual will – is its own justification, its own highest standard, its own unquestionable truth.”

In other words, to be truly free is to have no one tell me what I can or cannot do with my money, my body, or my life, and this is the goal of all of life.

Maybe Khalil Gibran was commenting on this mindset when the speaker in his book, The Prophet, declared, “I have seen you prostrate yourself and worship your own freedom, even as slaves humble themselves before a tyrant and praise him though he slays them… I have seen the freest among you wear their freedom as a yoke and a handcuff.”

The Biblical truth that Paul is suggesting and that these writers are echoing is that the truest freedom we can ever have is found not in doing what we want regardless of what God or anyone else thinks, but in becoming what we are meant to become by submitting to the nature of reality. It means that when God and I disagree on what I should or should not do, God wins and I submit.

“There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.” (Proverbs 14:12)

“For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.” (Luke 9:24)

“For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” (John 6:38)